Ernst Gulbis. What makes him tick? With all the talent he could want, the killer forehand, the angles, the serve, he has never delivered on his promise; a promise that he never made himself, granted, but promise that has always been evident and has been drooled over and extracted by tennis pundits since he first emerged.
It has seemed that talent alone and love of tennis have failed to make Gulbis tick, and being the son of a a billionaire, one can understand that there are other things besides training all day and going to bed before nine that might excite him, as the accusations of his soliciting a prostitute in 2009 point towards, or when asked in his post match interview what he likes more than tennis, his comment that "I think you all know" suggests.
Named after Heminingway, Ernst's talent is not as subtle as the writer's. Neither has it been as developed with such dedication. Loud and explosive though he may be when on, the rest of the time he fails to barely simmer. His sporadic bursts of deliverance have been a last sixteen showing in the 2007 US Open, quarter-finals in the 2008 French Open, winning at Delray Beach in 2010, beating Federer at the 2010 Italian Open, a title at LA in 2011 and then nothing at all until today. All of these blaring bullet-like bouts of brilliance have been punctuated by long bouts of......;blank pages taking up whole halves of novels; pages of whimpering nothingness, of injuries, first round exits, breaks for fatigue and innumerable changes of coaches.
Now and then he ticks on the court though, we hear the ticking...tick, tick, tick, and then marvel at the boom, and an exhilarating experience it is for the spectator, and Gulbis too, no doubt. Today was the day he was due another day of successfully bombing the enemy. His talent spilling out all over the court, serving brilliantly, his forehand on fire, carving up the court with angles, stepping into the court at every opportunity, light as a fighter class, he edged Berdych, who has been as consistent as it gets this year, by hitting 79 percent of first serves in, 30 aces and 60 winners over 3 tiebreak sets.
As the two young fighters shook hands, Berdych looked like he had set out for a standard stroll around the lawn only to set off a landmine, while his conqueror looked pleased to have exploded on the big stage once again. Whimper out or keep on bombing, it remains to be seen what Gulbis will do next. Others will have heard the bombs going off though and will be making sure to arrive to face him fully geared up in their disposal suits or else get blown away.